Live and Let Chai (Seaside Cafe Mystery #1)
Author: Bree Baker
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (2018)
Genre: Cozy Mystery
"'Welcome to Sun, Sand, and Tea.' I perked up at the precious sound of seashell wind chimes bouncing and tinkling against the front door of my new cafe. 'I'll be right with you.'"
Everly Swan has returned to her hometown of Charm, North Carolina and realized her dream of opening an iced tea shop on the beach. In a few short months, she has managed to purchase a beautiful, historic home on the beach, remodel the lower level to hold her shop and open her doors to serve iced tea to the locals and visitors of Charm. One of the main obstacles to opening her shop had been the opposition of a member of the town council named Benedict Paine. Mr. Paine believes that adding a business to a residential property will bring down the neighborhood. Despite his opposition, Everly opened the restaurant. Mr. Paine has made a habit of coming into her shop regularly and requesting an ingredient list. Everly does her best to be civil and treat him like a paying customer, hoping to win him over with her delicious tea. It is not surprising that Everly is at the top of the suspect list when Mr. Paine is found dead on the beach near the glass of peach tea he had been drinking.
Detective Hays is new to Charm. He shows up at the scene of the crime along with many of the townspeople. It is thought that Mr. Paine was poisoned and when Detective Hays discovers the iced tea glass from Everly's shop, he tells Everly she is going to have to come to the station and make a statement. Unfortunately, gossip runs wild in Charm and it is not long before Sun, Sand, and Tea is lacking in customers as people fear Everly will poison them too. But Everly didn't poison Mr. Paine and she dearly needs customers if she wants to keep her shop. If she could discover who poisoned Mr. Paine, could she clear her name?
The cast of characters in this book includes Everly's aunts, who own a shop in town, her friend Amelia, who runs a book store, Detective Hays and a few other people from the town. Everly has not been warmly welcomed since returning to Charm, but her aunts are thrilled to have her back and so is her friend Amelia. Of course, Detective Hays is the handsome stranger to town, who is thoroughly frustrated with Everly's attempts to locate the killer. Honestly, at times her brazenness was annoying to me as well.
I really enjoyed the setting of a beach town. It sounds like a lovely place to take a vacation. And all the flavors of iced tea intrigued me. The mystery has us following along with Everly as she asks questions and often offends people. All the while Detective Hays is conducting his investigation, which we know is occurring, but don't know what he is discovering. There are plenty of wrong turns, as well as a second murder. In the end it is all solved and justice is served.
I enjoyed visiting Charm and look forward to getting to know these characters a little more in the next book.